The SPEAKER pro tempore. The Chair recognizes the gentlewoman from California (Ms. Woolsey) for 5 minutes.
Ms. WOOLSEY. Mr. Speaker, in April of the year 2004, I rose in this Chamber to speak for 5 minutes about my conviction that the war in Iraq was a dangerous, immoral policy, and it was hurting America and our national security.
Since then, I've delivered a similar message nearly every day that it was possible when we were in session, and once the Iraq war finally drew to a close, I moved on to focus on the ongoing military occupation of Afghanistan, which soon will be in its 11th year, costing us more than 2,000 American lives and more than half a trillion dollars and counting.
Today is my 440th 5-minute Special Order calling for an end of these wars and the safe return of our troops to their families right here at home. I'm not proud of having reached that number. I would much prefer that the speeches were no longer necessary.
But since I'm retiring from the House at the end of this year, my 20th year in Congress, one of my biggest disappointments is that we haven't shown the leadership, the courage, and the resolve to finally secure peace.
We are still mired in this Afghanistan conflict, even though the evidence is overwhelming that it's doing more harm than good, even though it's emboldening terrorists and insurgents rather than defeating them, even though it's breeding resentment of America instead of winning hearts and minds. We are still mired in this conflict, even though a clear majority of the American people no longer want any part of it.
I will not return to the House in 2013, so this will be one of my final opportunities to press this point. But as long as our troops remain in harm's way, and as long as this dreadful policy continues, I will continue to speak out and speak up.
I know there are many proud and fearless opponents of this war on both sides of the aisle who will continue to lead this effort right here in Congress. Time and time again what I have advocated is not just an end to these wars, but the beginning of a new approach to combating terrorism and keeping America safe.
We need to lead with American cooperation and compassion around the world, not American weapons and brute force. We need SMART Security, a plan that puts the focus on development and diplomacy. We need a strategy that gives people hope and improves their lives instead of invading and occupying their lands.
This is not only the humane approach, Mr. Speaker, it's also the more pragmatic one, the one that will truly advance our national security goals, and it's a lot more cost-effective. Helping people costs pennies on the dollar compared to waging war. A lot of people have said to me over the years, Woolsey, your problem is that you think we can have a perfect world. Well, consider me guilty as charged.
I don't believe there is anything wrong with idealism and ambitious goals because I'm absolutely certain that if we don't strive for a perfect world, we won't ever come close to providing a safe, secure, and peaceful world for our grandchildren and their grandchildren, and that's our job here in Congress.